My reading in May

Posted: June 9, 2015 in Book Awards, Dalziel and Pascoe, England, Reginald Hill, review, tv crime fiction

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I read Pierre LeMaitre’s Camille [reviewed here], Death’s Jest-Book by Reginald Hill, The Ghost by Robert Harris, and only just started the Petrona Award winner The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. 

Death’s Jest-Book is another big blockbuster of a novel being both a sequel to Dialogues Of The Dead, and also having several new intriguing sub-plots. The fact that two 600 page books can be read without too much of a struggle is a tribute to one of our greatest crime writers, and the wonderfully quirky characters created by Reginald Hill. It was quite sad to say goodbye, even temporarily, to Andy Dalziel, Peter Pascoe, Ellie, Wieldy, Hat Bowler, “Ivor” Novello, Franny Roote, and their relationships and problems.

The Ghost by Robert Harris is a brilliant read, but not quite my cup of tea, I much prefer his historical fiction books Fatherland, Enigma and An Officer And A Spy, simply because modern politics seems still a bit too raw as we still face the problems discussed in The Ghost. 

The Ghost is roped in to rewrite the autobiography of an ex-British Prime Minister called Adam Lang, who despite the usual disclaimer that any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental bears a strong likeness to a recent British politician. The real Lang was a master of illusion, won three general elections, and was surrounded by political colleagues some of whom spent more time plotting his demise than running the country. 

In the book the previous “ghost” writer has met an untimely end apparently falling off the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. Our new ghost, a man who does not know anything about politics, and who is never named, discusses the manuscript he is to rewrite with Amelia, Lang’s personal assistant.

‘Honestly? I haven’t had so much fun since I read the memoirs of Leonid Brezhnez.’ She didn’t smile. ‘I don’t understand how it happened,’ I went on.

‘You people were running the country not that long ago. Surely one of you had English as a first language?’

Author Robert Harris fell out with New Labour, and our ex-PM, over the Iraq War, a conflict which may well go down in history as one of the greatest strategic mistakes since Cornwallis marched his army into Yorktown. But who knows………..

 

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Comments
  1. Interesting, isn’t it, Norman, how certain topics really are a little too recent and raw for us to ‘dive into,’ even if the book is excellent… Still, this does sound like a very intelligent and readable book, which I’m glad to hear. And who wouldn’t enjoy spending time with Reginald Hill’s terrific characters?

  2. Norman Price says:

    Margot, as someone who lost £5 [to my wife] on the recent British General Election, modern politics is indeed very raw.
    I hasten to add the bet was made BEFORE Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader in the election, met with Russell Brand to discuss politics, and then brought down from “Mount Sinai” a large stone with Labour’s pledges engraved. This was to be placed in the garden of No10 Downing Street.

    Ed, I want my fiver back!
    Labour have a history of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory, as in 1992 when they had their victory rally in Sheffield BEFORE the actual election.

  3. Norman, I’ve read the Harris and the Hill and very much liked both of them. I thought the film of The Ghost was very good too.
    Can’t think about the election, it depresses me too much!

  4. Norman Price says:

    Moira, I should never have made that bet with my wife.
    Many years ago she was deeply involved in Labour Party politics, and actually once dined with the late Michael Foot, leader of the party in the 1983 election, at the House of Commons. She read the signs of the debacle way before the political commentators.

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